- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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Former Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins has accepted a five-year contract to coach Kansas State, his attorney, Richard Katz, said Thursday.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Why Kansas State?
"I am really excited about this. I am excited about this
opportunity," Huggins said at the Thursday news conference in which his hiring was officially announced. "I do not know that I have ever been
around nicer people, people more committed to doing things the
right way. The more we talked, the more excited I got."
Huggins, who was forced out of Cincinnati last August, will replace Jim Wooldridge, who was fired after the Wildcats lost to Texas Tech in the Big 12 tournament opening round earlier this month.
"I'm not ready to finish," he said. "What bothered me was not
having the dealings on a day-to-day basis with young people. That's
what I missed. I missed practice. I missed trying to help guys get
better and grow up and become men. I missed the interaction I had
Kansas State also interviewed Northern Iowa's Greg McDermott, but he took the Iowa State job.
Huggins has had conversations with Kansas State in the past few weeks. Richard Katz had made four trips to Kansas State recently, surveying the scene. This could come down to one of the most important hires of athletic director's Tim Weiser's career. Kansas State has needed to hit a home run with this hire and certainly has brought in a big-time name in Huggins.
If Huggins is able to make the Wildcats into a top 10 program, a lot of that will depend on whether or not he can land the cream of the class of 2007 in North Hill High (Ohio) players O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker, who have expressed interest in following Huggins in two seasons.
Huggins has always recruited junior colleges well, an area of recruiting where Kansas State has done well, recently. Kansas State is considered to have solid young talent so Huggins isn't going into a complete rebuilding situation. The Wildcats return their best player, junior Cartier Martin, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 18 points a game last season when the team finished 15-13 (6-10 in Big 12). The Wildcats didn't have a senior in their top four scorers last season.
Two of Huggins' former Cincinnati assistants also landed jobs
Thursday, with Mick Cronin leaving Murray State to return to the
Bearcats, and Cincinnati interim coach Andy Kennedy taking the top
spot at Mississippi.
Huggins, 52, coached Cincinnati to 14 straight NCAA Tournaments and the Final Four in 1992. Huggins has said throughout the season that he wanted to return to coaching. Huggins now joins a stellar group of coaches in the Big 12 in Bob Knight (Texas Tech), Rick Barnes (Texas), Eddie Sutton (still at Oklahoma State), Bill Self (Kansas) and Kelvin Sampson (Oklahoma).
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.